Water FAQs

How do I read my water meter?

Click here to learn how to read your water meter.


Where does AUB get its water?

AUB obtains its drinking water from three sources: The Ingleside Spring source has served AUB well for decades. A second source is the combined offering of two wells AUB drilled into an aquifer that runs parallel to Oostanaula Creek in a southwest direction. The well field is about 2,200 feet northeast of Oostanaula Creek Dam off of Tellico Avenue. Finally, AUB purchases water from Hiwassee Utility Commission, the source being treated surface water from the Hiwassee River.


What is the “availability” charge?

AUB has a cost associated with building and maintaining the infrastructure of our utility systems. Regardless of the amount of electricity, natural gas or water sold, there are fixed operating costs incurred by AUB each month. The availability charge helps recover a portion of these fixed costs. For instance, your mortgage, rent, insurance, etc., is a cost that remains fixed month to month even if your income changes. Some of AUB’s fixed costs include:

  • Maintenance of lines and poles, pipes and facilities
  • Interstate natural gas pipeline “demand” charges
  • Natural gas storage facility “reservation” charges
  • Safety and Inspection Programs for Customers


How do you treat our drinking water?

Water that AUB purchases from the Hiwassee Utility Commission is already treated. Water from Ingleside Spring and AUB’s wells is pumped to the Vernon Wade Filter Plant, off of Ingleside Avenue, where it is mixed with ferric sulfate and lime. The ferric sulfate causes particles in the water to settle out and the lime is added for pH (measure of acidity) control. Downstream from the mixing tanks are sedimentation tanks where solids settle to the bottom and are removed. The clear water then flows through filter beds where other solids, even extremely small particles, are removed. Chlorine is added as a disinfectant and fluoride is added to promote strong teeth. A corrosion inhibitor (zinc orthophosphate) is also added to reduce pipe corrosion.


Should I filter my water?

It is really a matter of personal choice. AUB water is delivered to customers filtered and treated. However, some people are unsure about the pipes in their homes or about other issues, so they feel more comfortable putting an in-line filter in their home. The downside is that filters often create breeding grounds for bacteria. Actually, it’s in their nature because one thing they do is remove chlorine. That just creates a habitat for bacteria. If home filters are used, they should be well maintained by the homeowner.


Why does AUB flush the city fire hydrants occasionally?

Twice a year, AUB flushes all of the city water lines by opening each hydrant and allowing it to flow for a few minutes. This helps clear the water lines of loose sediments and other buildups, ensuring an ongoing supply of sparkling clean water. When we flush the lines, customers sometimes experience low water pressure and periods of cloudy water. The cloudy water is harmless, but it’s best not to wash clothes during our flushing events, which we advertise broadly prior to the flush date.


Is bottled water safer than tap water?

Some consumers feel that bottled water is somehow safer than tap water. This is generally not true. In fact, a recent study revealed that 25 percent of all bottled water is simply tap water that has been placed in a bottle and sold at a price 250 to 10,000 times higher than tap water. For example, a typical price for a one-gallon jug of bottled water ranges from $0.99 to $4, whereas the price for a gallon of AUB tap water is less than $0.002—less than 2/10ths of a penny per gallon. As for the quality of bottled water, it also can vary greatly. Several factors affect the quality, such as the water source, production processes, packaging material, and shelf life before use. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until 1996 that bottled water was federally scrutinized regarding quality. In some states, it was not regulated at all. Today, federal laws require that bottled water meet many of the regulations as utility-supplied tap water.


Is lead a problem in my drinking water?

Lead does not occur naturally in the AUB water supply, nor is it a result of the treatment or distribution processes. In the Athens area, lead in drinking water is most commonly caused by lead-based solder used to join copper piping in home plumbing systems that were built prior to 1988, the year in which Tennessee banned the use of solders containing lead. When water stands for several hours in plumbing that contains lead, the metal can dissolve or leach into the water. As a precaution, you can eliminate lead from your drinking water by allowing the water to run for a few minutes before consuming it.